Jamaica — Fire has once again destroyed just over one hundred acres of farm land in the bread-basket parish of St Elizabeth, resulting in millions of dollars in losses to the approximately 100 farmers in the small communities of Nembhard, Chocolate Hole and Cheapside.
The farmers, some of whom are still recovering from a massive fire earlier this year, said several animals were also lost in the blaze, started from a bush fire. Several acres of crops along with grass used as mulch for dry farming were also destroyed.
According to Lewis Simpson, a scallion farmer, he has suffered a major setback as a result of the fire.
“Acres upon acres were burnt, it will take us a long time to recover, and I’ve lost millions of dollars…,” he said.
Another farmer Nigel Lewin from Chocolate Hole who was affected by a fire last year said everything on his farm with the exception of two goats went up in smoke.
“All of my yam, peas, cassava, pumpkin and everything gone, it was about a half acre of pumpkin, everything gone,” he said.
The farmers are calling for measures to be put in place to prevent a recurrence of the destruction.
Meanwhile, representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture will be travelling to the southern parish on Tuesday to begin a preliminary assessment of the damage.
Member of Parliament for South East St Elizabeth Franklin Witter said he would be seeking a meeting with Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton to once again raise the issue of crop insurance.
“I think it is very important that we look along these lines. I think the minister, some time ago, mentioned something about that and I will be speaking with him to see how we can deal with the immediate problem and also to look at the way forward,” he said.
Farmers in St Elizabeth, located in the south-western Jamaica supply most of the population with agricultural produce.